Customer service is not solely one area of your business. Always remember that you are in business to serve your patients. Without them, you won’t be in business much longer. Being able and willing to deal with all kinds of customers. Having them walk away from an interaction satisfied, if not happy, should be your ultimate customer service goal. The nine points below will help you with that goal and improve your overall customer service experience.
1. Patience is a Virtue
Understand that patients often reach out to you when they are confused or upset. Although it is not you personally that they are frustrated with, it may seem that way. It can be especially frustrating when a patient cannot understand concepts that seem simple to you. Remember to be patient with every customer and help them to the best of your ability. You’re the patient’s rock, and you need to hold it together even when they can’t.
2. Be Attentive, Actively Listen
Listening is one of the simplest secrets of customer service. Listening means hearing what your patients are saying out loud, as well as what they are communicating non-verbally. Watch for signs that they are displeased, as well as what they say to you directly. Patients want to be heard just as much as they want their problems solved.
3. Knowledge is Power
Remember you’re not selling products and services, you’re selling good feelings and solutions to problems. In order to provide good customer service, you need to know what you’re selling, inside and out. Make sure you know how your products work. Be aware of the most common questions patients ask about your products, and know how to articulate the answers.
4. Positive Language Changes Everything
An example illustrates this best. Let’s say a customer contacts you with an interest in a particular product, but that product happens to be backordered until next month. Small changes that utilize “positive language” can greatly affect how the customer hears your response…
• Without positive language: “I can’t get you that product until next month; it is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
• With positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse.”
The second example states the exact same thing as the first, but focuses on how you will resolve the customers problem of getting the backordered product, instead of focusing on the problem that the product is backordered.
5. Closing is Key
And I don’t mean “closing” a sale. A patient’s feelings at the end of a customer service interaction can determine their feelings about your products, service, or company as a whole. Make sure to end every customer service conversation with confirmed satisfaction (or as close to it as you can achieve) and with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of (or will be). Being scooted out of the office before all of their problems have been addressed is the last thing that patients want. Be sure to take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue they had on deck has been entirely resolved.
6. Appreciate Your Customers
Patients are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feelings and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you, and thank them every chance you get.
7. “Yes” Is a Powerful Word
Always look for ways to help your patients, and look for ways to make doing business with you easy. When customers have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it, and figure out how afterwards. Always do what you say you are going to do, but don’t over promise. If something is absolutely out of your control, send them to someone who can actually do something about it. The worst thing you can do is say yes to a request and then go back on your promise.
This is why you shouldn’t use the “under promise & over deliver” strategy for customer service.
8. Collect Feedback & Use It!
You may be surprised what you learn about your patients and their needs when you ask them what they think of your business, products, and services. You can use surveys, feedback forms and questionnaires. You can also make it a common practice to ask customers first-hand for feedback when they are in the office. But you need to do something with the feedback you receive in order to make it useful in your customer service process. Take time to regularly review feedback, identify areas for improvement, and make specific changes in your business.
9. Your Employees Are Customers
It’s important to make sure all of your employees, not just your customer-facing employees, understand the way they should talk to, interact with, and problem solve for customers. Provide employee training that gives your staff the tools they need to carry good customer service through the entire patient experience. If you treat your employees with great service, they will be more equipped to model that for your customers. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for patients. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating patients and employees well is equally important.